“What if we tried…?” “I was thinking more like…” “What if we…?” Phrases like these are often heard floating around client meetings. It’s hard as a creative to take client creative direction with a grain of salt, especially since we’ve probably spent the past XX(X) number of hours creating concepts/executions/etc. for them, are lacking in sleep, and could probably use a stiff drink. These are the moments that the great stand tall and the weak (usually) fall.
Something you learn after years in the advertising industry is to know when to pick your battles. Yes, we are the “creative experts.” And, yes, we are hired to give our “professional” consultation on something that the client cannot otherwise do himself. The truth, unfortunately, is that we are not creating a piece of us for the client to judge. We are creative problem solvers doing just that — creatively solving a client’s problem. We, much like actors, are putting ourselves in the shoes of another and executing something from a perspective of what appeals to them. Not to us. Other than our creative skills, we should not be there.
Trying to see things from that perspective (if it makes any sense at all) is an extremely useful tool I wish I had when I was starting out. I often felt like when my work was rejected, I was rejected. Everyone wants to be a creative. Particularly the client, they just can’t. This is a very important thing to keep in mind because, stripped down of all the bull, we are in a service industry. If our client is unhappy, they can opt to leave. We must make our client (be it another department or an entire company) feel as though their opinions and thoughts are being heard and considered. It’s not you, it’s them. They need to feel they’ve contributed; that they’re part of the process; that they’ve gotten their word in. Whatever their reason for doing it (showing off to a higher up, insecurity, personal dissatisfaction) the client is exactly that—a client. Remember that before taking personal offense to something that often has very little to do with your talents and abilities.
Rena Prizant is an award-winning copywriter, creative, and mammal in Chicago; she's been professionally word playing for the past ten years. If there are ideas and words to be created, she’s your gal. She’s got you covered with concept development, messaging, creative leadership, and SEO. Just tell her what you want to say, she’ll write it for you…any way. Read www.ConceptsAndWords.com and follow @ConceptsNWords.
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